August 5, 1804
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Aug 30, 1803 Sep 30, 1806

August 5, 1804


August 5th    Set out early    wind from N E.    Great appearance of Wind & rain, (I have remarked that I have not heard much thunder in this Countrey)    〈Lightning is Common as in other Countries〉    a verry large Snake was Killed to day called the Bull Snake, his Colour Some thing like a rattle Snake Something lighter— [1]    the bends of the river to day is washing away the banks, haveing nothing to oppose the turbelance of the [river] when Confined by large hard Sand Points, forceing this Current against the bends—    the Soil of the entire bottom between the high land, being the mud or Ooze of the river of Some former period mixed with Sand & Clay easely melts and Slips, or washies into the river    the mud mixes with the water & the Sand collects on the points [2]    Camped on the S. S. [3]    I went on [4] Shore S. S. this evening    Saw Some turkeys and in persueing them Struk the river 12 miles below the place by water I went out, I think the Peninsuly is about 370 yards across Subjuct to overflow; & washes into numerous Channels, Great quantities of Graps ripe & of three Defferent Kind    Some large & fine. I Killed a Turkey, and made Camp in the Night, Musqutors verry troubleson—    Reed the man who went back for his Knife has not yet joined us

Courses & Distance of Aug 5th Sunday
S. 60° E.   1 ½ across a large Sand bar to a point on M Stbd. Shore below
a large willow Island on S. Bend
N. 20 W.      ¾ Ms. to a pt. above a Sand bar on the opsd. the upper pt. of
the Island, (much Beaver Sign)
N. 34 W   3 ¼ Ms. to a pt on the L. S.    passed one on the S.S.
North      ¾ m. to a pt. on the right of a Sand Island making from the
L. pt.
S. 45 W.   2 ¼ Ms. to 3 Small trees in a Bend L. S. passi'g over a Sand
point S. S.
N. 45 W   4 ½ Ms. to a point on S. S.    the High land Grat Distance from
the R
North   1 ¼ on the S. S. to a pt. of Sand bar—opsd. a falling in bank
river narrow
N. 70 E.      ¼ on the S. Sand bar
S. 30 E.   2 Ms. to the Pt. of a Sand bar makeing out from the L. point
the Same continued ½ miles    psd. a Sand in the md.
N. 45 E   2 ½ to the 〈mouth〉 lower point of an Island close to Stard
Shore    it behind this Island on the Stard side that the Sol-
dier's river disimbogues itself [5]
  20 ½  

Set out early    great appearance of wind and rain    (I have observed that Thundor & lightning is not as common in this Countrey as it is in the atlantic States)    Snakes are not plenty, one was killed to day large and resembling the rattle Snake only Something lighter—.    I walked on Shore this evening S. S.    in Pursueing Some Turkeys I [s]truck the river twelve miles below within 370 yards, the high water passes thro this Peninsulia; and agreeable to the Customary Changes of the river I Concld. [NB: Should Calculate] that in two years the main Current of the river will pass through. In every bend the banks are falling in from the Current being thrown against those bends by the Sand points which inlarges and the Soil I believe from unquestionable appearns. of the entire bottom from one hill to the other being the mud or ooze of the River at Some former Period mixed with Sand and Clay easily melts and Slips into the River, and the mud mixes with the water & the Sand is washed down and lodges on the points—    Great quantities of Grapes on the banks, I observe three different Kinds at this time ripe, one Of the no. is large & has the flaver of the Purple grape. [6]    camped on the S. S.    the Musquitors verry troubleson. The man who went back after his Knife has not yet come up, we have Some reasons to believe he has Deserted

Course Distance & Refrs. August 5th
S. 60° E   1 ½ ms. crossgn. a large Sd. bar to a pt. on mn. S. Sd. bel[ow]:
a willow Isd. in St. Bend
N. 20 W.      ¾ ms. to a pt. above a Sad. bar opsd. the upper pt. of the Sd.
Island Beaver
N. 34 W.   3 ¼ ms. to a pt. on the L. S.    passed one on the Starboard Side
North      ¾ Me. to a pt. on the right of a Sand Isd. makeing from the
L. pt.
S. 45° W.   3 ¼ mes. to 3 Small trees in Prarie & bend to the L. S.    passed
a Sand pt. S. S.
N. 45° W.   4 ½ Ms. to a pt. on S. S.
North   1 ¼ Ms. on the S. S. to the pt. of a Sand bar river narrow
N. 70° E      ¼ Ms. on the Sand bar S. S.
S. 30 E   2 ms. to the pt. of a Sand bar making out from the L. pt.
psd. a Sand.
S. 30 E      ½ Me. on the point
N. 45° E   2 ½ mes. to the lower point of an Island Close to S. S. 〈at〉
behind this Island on S. S. the Soldiers river disimboques
  20 ½  

Killed a serpent [EC: Pituophis melanol] on the bank of the river adjoining a large prarie.

  F Inch
Length from nose to tail 5 2
Circumpherence in largest part—  
Number of scuta on belly—    221    
Do. on Tale—    53    

No pison teeth therefore think him perfectly inocent—    eyes, center black with a border of pale brown yellow Colour of skin on head yellowish green with black specks on the extremity of the scuta which are pointed or triangular    colour of back, transverse stripes of black and dark brown of an inch in width, succeeded by a yellowish brown of half 〈colour of belly & scuta〉 that width—

the end of the tale hard and pointed like a cock's spur—

the sides are speckled with yellowish brown and black.—    two roes of black spots on a lite yellow ground pass throughout his whole length on the upper points of the scuta of the belly and tale ½ Inch apart    this snake is vulgarly called the cow or bull snake from a bellowing nois which it is said sometimes to make resembling that anamal, tho' as to this fact I am unable to attest it never having heard them make that or any other noise myself.—

I have frequently observed an acquatic bird [EC: sterna antillarum] in the cours of asscending this river but have never been able to procure one before today, this day I was so fortunate as to kill two of them, they are here more plenty than on the river below.    they lay their eggs on the sand bars without shelter or nest, and produce their young from the 15th to the last of June, the young ones of which we caught several are covered with down of a yellowish white colour and on the back some small specks of a dark brown.    they bear a great resemblance to the young quale of ten days oald, and apear like them to be able to runabout and peck their food as soon as they are hatched—    this bird, lives on small fish, worms and bugs which it takes on the virge of the water    it is seldom seen to light on trees an qu[i]te as seldom do they lite in the water and swim tho' the foot would indicate that they did it's being webbed    I believe them to be a native of this country and probly a constant resident.—

the weight of the male bird is one ounce and a half, it[s] [l]ength from b[e]ak to toe 7½ inches    from tip to tip of wing across the back one foot seven inches and a half    [the beak] is one ⅛ inch lonong, large where it joins the head flated on the sides and tapering to a sharp point, a little declining and curvated, a fine yellow, with a shade of black on the extremity of upper beak; the eye is prominent, black and on a angular scale of ½ Inc; occupyse 3⅓ in width.    the upper part of the head is black from the beak as low as the middle of the eye and a little below the joinging of the neck except however some white which joins the upper part of the beak 〈and extends〉 which forks and passing over the sides of the forehead terminate above each eye—    the under part of the bird, that is the thr[o]at and cheeks as high as the eye, the neck brest belly and under part of the wings and tail are of a fine white, the upper part of the neck, back, and wings are of a fine, quaker colour, or bright dove colour with reather more of a bluish tint—except however the three first or larger feathers in the wing which on upper side are of a deep black.    the wing has four joints—

No. Joint Length of joint No. of feathers Length of do.
1 a Clump of feathers not
strong but loosly connect with
the flesh of the wing
2 2 16 2
3 7 from 2½ to 4½
4 ¾ 3

the tail has eleven feathers the outer of which are an inch longer than those in the center gradually tapering inwards which gives the tale a forked appearance like that of the Swally [swallow]    the largest or outer feathe[r] is 2¾ that of the shortest 1¾—    the leg and thye are three inches long the leg occupying one half this length    the thye is covered with feathers except about ¼ of an inch above the knee    the leg is of a bright yellow and nails long sharp and black    the foot is webbed and has three toes forward; the heel or back toe is fixed to the leg above the palm of the foot, and is unconnected by a web to the other toes, it has no nail.    the wings when foalded lap like those of the swallow and extend at least an inch and a half beyond the tale.    this bird is very noysey when flying which is does exttreemly swift    the motion of the wing is much like that of kildee    it has two notes one like the squaking of a small pig only on reather a high kee, and the other kit'-tee'-kit'-tee'- as near as letters can express the sound—    the beak of the female is black and the black and quaker colour of the male in her is yellow[i]s[h] brown mixed with dove colour


On the Larboard shore of main channel, and on the starboard side of the Sand Island.—

Observed meridian Altd. of ☉'s L. L. with Octant by the back observtn.    54° 3' —"

Latitude deduced from this observation    41° 30' 6.7"


Sunday 5th 1804.    we Set out eairly    proceeded on till about 7 oClock.    a Shower came up from N. W. Some wind attending it.    which Detained us about 2 hours.    we then proceded on Round Sand bars. Delayed a Short time at 12 o.C. for Capt Lewis to take m. observation, proceded on along the Bank of a large prarie    one of the men kild a large spoted bull Snake under the bank    a nomber of birds [9] which live in the bank flying about this Snake    it is supposed the Snake charm them. [10]    a head wind.—    we proceded on round a long bend.    Capt. Clark went on Shore towards evening in the point of Cottonwood & Grape Vines    the Grape plenty    C. Clark was at the River below this point which is only 370 yards across, & 12 miles round. C. Clark killed a Turkey & came to the Boat at dark, where we Led    Roed abot 18 miles. Camped [11] on the N. S. of the Missouri below an Island.—


Sunday august 5th    Set out erley this morning    Cam 2 miles when a verry hard Storm of wind and Rain from the North 〈West〉 Est    it Lasted about 2 ouers and Cleard up    I have Remarked that I have not heard much thunder in this Countrey    Lightining is Common as in other Countreys    a verry Large Snake was Killed to day Called the Bull Snake    his Colure Somthing Like a Rattel Snake    passed Severall Bad Sand bares    made 16 miles    Campt on the North Side at Som wood Land    that on the South is woo Land


Sunday 5th.    We set out early, but a storm of rain and wind obliged us to stop two hours. It then cleared and we continued our voyage; passed prairies on both sides, and encamped on the north side. The river here is very crooked and winding. To arrive at a point only 370 yards from this place, the passage by water is twelve miles.


Sunday 5    Nothing Extraordinary happned that day    Road 16 miles    Campd. On the S. S    Read deserted from our party— [12]

Sunday August 5th    We started early this morning and proceeded on rowing 16 Miles, we encamped on the South side of the River in the Evening.—    One of our Men named Read, deserted from our party this Morning—

1. The bullsnake is Pituophis melanoleucus sayi. See Lewis's description from Codex Q, below, on this date. Burroughs, 275–76; Benson, 89. (back)
2. Records of wells drilled through the floodplain sediments of the Missouri River in this region generally show that thirty to more than fifty feet of "blue" or gray clay, post-Pleistocene alluvium, overlie the sand and gravel that fill the lower part of the valley. (back)
3. In Harrison County, Iowa, near the Burt-Washington county line, Nebraska on the opposite shore. Shifts of the Missouri River and of the lower course of the Soldier River over the years have evidently been substantial. Atlas map 14; Warren map 6; MRC maps 24, 25; MRR maps 68, 69. (back)
4. Clark continued the narrative from here following the courses and distances. It is rearranged for ease of reading. (back)
5. This last course appears in Lewis's hand, as are also the words "the same continued ½ miles" in the previous line. (back)
6. The three grape species are probably Vitis aestivalis Michx., summer grape, pigeon grape; V. riparia Michx., river-bank grape; and V. vulpina L., winter grape. The larger grape (V. riparia) tasted like the "Purple grape," which may be the cultivated concord grape, V. labrusca L. Barkley, 219–20; Fernald, 997–98. (back)
7. Lewis's natural history notes from Codex Q. See n. 1 this date for the snake. The "acquatic bird" is the least tern, Sterna antillarum [AOU, 74]. The bird used for comparison is the killdeer, Charadrius vociferus [AOU, 273]. Burroughs, 231–32. (back)
8. Lewis's observation from Codex O. (back)
9. Probably the bank swallow, Riparia riparia. (back)
10. Ordway is the only journal keeper to relate the folk belief that snakes could somehow charm birds. Clark recorded other snake stories on June 14 and 24, 1804. (back)
11. In Harrison County, Iowa, across the river and not far from the Burt-Washington county line in Nebraska. (back)
12. Moses B. Reed had left on August 4, but this was no doubt the day they realized he was not coming back. (back)